Cafe 209

Meat-and-Three | Soul Food
excellent
Worth a detour
Save

Broad Street, the main drag through downtown Augusta, is a veritable restaurant row: new, cutting-edge eateries as well as old-school favorites. Cafe 209, which used to be located nearer the Riverfront, is a Broad Street destination unaffected by trends. Located just up the block from the raffish Sports Center bar and Luigi’s vintage Italian restaurant, this happy lunchroom offers comforting meat-and-3 fare, soul-food style.

I had driven past it many times and never even noticed its existence in an old brick building with only a small sign hung out front. But when infallible tipster Keith McLendon (“Chickenplucker”) suggested we meet here for lunch (the only meal served), I was on my way. Keith said he had previously enjoyed pork chops and his wife very much liked the beef liver (I agree: the liver, smothered with onions and gravy, is short-order heaven).

Fried chicken is the main attraction. I can’t believe how extraordinarily juicy the dark-meat thigh is; and its crisp, well-seasoned veil of crust quite literally melts in the mouth. In a region where good fried chicken is no surprise, Cafe 209’s is surprisingly good.

One can order this chicken by the piece, so it is possible to have just a piece or two along with a whole lot of 209’s excellent side dishes. The list of nearly two dozen includes Thursday-only broccoli casserole and cornbread dressing, pungent turnip greens, supersweet fried corn, piquant rutabagas, and Friday-only cole slaw and potato salad (to accompany catfish or flounder). Broccoli casserole is luxury incarnate — really more a cheese and rice casserole with just enough broccoli mixed in for it to qualify as a vegetable. Cornbread dressing, smothered with gravy and accompanied by cranberry sauce, could almost be a meal unto itself … although I can’t imagine a better companion for pork chops or Wednesday-only meat loaf.

It’s all good, the chicken even better than that; however dessert is a let-down: gummy peach cobbler, banana pudding with synthetic flavor.

Beyond estimable food, lunching at Cafe 209 is a heartening experience. Customers are greeted at the door by a congenial hostess and taken care of by a diligent waitstaff. In my book, it is nutrition for the soul to eat these old-fashioned square meals alongside local folks (most of whom appear to be regulars) in a sturdy brick building on Augusta’s grand old Broad Street.

What to Eat
Cafe 209, Fried Chicken
Fried Chicken
Must-Try
Succulent chicken thigh is enveloped by melt-in-the-mouth crust.
Cafe 209, Rutabagas
Rutabagas
Must-Try
Well-cooked chunks of spicy rutabaga deliver root-vegetable satisfaction.
Cafe 209, Broccoli Casserole
Broccoli Casserole
Must-Try
Broccoli casserole, a Thursday-only specialty, is all about luxurious cheese and rice and just a little about its namesake.
Cafe 209, Cornbread Dressing
Cornbread Dressing
Must-Try
Smothered with gravy, cornbread dressing is a great side for just about any meat.
Cafe 209, Fried Corn
Fried Corn
Must-Try
Fried corn is as sweet as dessert pudding
Cafe 209, Beef Liver
Beef Liver
Must-Try
Liver lovers will exult in this mineral-charged slice smothered in gravy & onions.
Cafe 209, Okra & Tomatoes
Okra & Tomatoes
Must-Try
From southern gardens: okra & tomatoes
Cafe 209, Banana Pudding
Banana Pudding
I don't know where the banana pudding comes from, but its ersatz taste and dense texture make me wish it would go back.
Cafe 209, Peach Cobbler
Peach Cobbler
Gummy-textured peach cobbler is more sweet than peachy.
Cafe 209, Lemonade
Lemonade
Lemonade is freshly squeezed.
Directions and Hours
Information
Price
$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
No
Outdoor Seating
No

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Frog Hollow Tavern

    Augusta, Georgia

    Local, seasonal, organic: Augusta’s Frog Hollow Tavern does it right. Shrimp & grits is kaleidoscopic; in-season peaches are spectacular; cocktails are clever.

  • Variety Restaurant

    Aiken, South Carolina

    Portions are huge, service is old-style hospitable at the Variety, a favorite of South Carolina square-meals eaters who know good steaks and fresh seafood.

  • Pizza Joint

    Aiken, South Carolina

    The Pizza Joint is a very American pizzeria/tavern where the pies range from traditional plain to outlandish combinations of atypical ingredients.

  • Iron Horse Bar & Grill

    Beech Island, South Carolina

    Bar food reigns at Iron Horse Bar & Grill restaurant, where private club status allows Sunday drinking. Burgers, wings & loaded potatoes all are dandy.

  • Apizza di Napoli

    Aiken, South Carolina

    Apizza di Napoli’s true Neapolitan pizzas are quickly cooked at 900 degrees, emerging with elegant crisp and chewy crust. An Aiken, South Carolina best bet!

  • Betsy’s Around the Corner

    Aiken, South Carolina

    A bustling Aiken restaurant serving sandwiches, salads, burgers, and square meals, Betsy’s also is a layer cake-lover’s dream.